Last season Mike Novak was playing collegiate hockey for the Oswego State Lakers. Last Friday, Novak was almost playing professional hockey in the American Hockey League for the Syracuse Crunch.
Roughly a week prior to the Shapiro Motor Classic at the Campus Center Ice Arena the Crunch attempted to sign Novak to play in the game. It would have given Novak a chance to play on his college home ice during and likely would have boosted attendance for the game. Talks continued through Thursday afternoon, when it was decided that the Crunch did not have room on their roster to bring in Novak.
"It would have been a good opportunity for me," Novak said. "I would have enjoyed playing where I played in college and playing in front of all the fans."
Even if Novak had been signed by the Crunch, it would only have been for the Shapiro Motor Classic. He would have been released following the game.
Instead of playing in the AHL, Novak will instead head to Muskegon, Mich. and play for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League. Novak was signed by the Lumberjacks on Sept. 14 in hopes to tighten up the team’s defense.
"Mike was recommended to us by Atlanta Thrashers head coach John Anderson, who believes Mike can fill the bill in what we are looking for from our young defense group," Lumberjacks coach Rich Kromm told mlive.com. "Mike is big and strong and will give us a lot of size on the back line."
Novak had been considering playing hockey in Germany before deciding to play for the Lumberjacks. Training camp for the Lumberjacks begins on Oct. 5.
Since graduation, Novak has been occupied with an internship for a wine company. Although busy, Novak still finds time to train for hockey. He and former Lakers teammate Brendan McLaughlin skate every morning to stay in shape for the upcoming hockey season. Novak continues to stay in touch with his fellow teammates. Nine of last year’s 13 seniors live in Canada, and eight of the nine live in Ontario.
Novak, a native of Milton, Ontario, joined the Oswego State hockey team in 2005 after playing for the Milton Icehawks and Wexford Raiders (now known as the Toronto Jr. Canadiens) of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League. In his four-year career in the OPJHL, Novak compiled 23 points in 84 games with four goals and 19 assists adding 154 penalty minutes. At 6-foot-3-inches, 202 lbs, the defenseman played in 16 games during his freshman season, registering five points on one goal and four assists. During his career at Oswego State, Novak recorded 14 points on two goals and 12 assists as well as totaling 104 penalty minutes.
Despite graduating from Oswego State last May, Novak will always remember his collegiate career.
"Oswego State is a great program and it was a good opportunity for me," Novak said. "You’ll be hard-pressed to find a closer knit group than the one that we had there. The facility, the fans, and the atmosphere were second to none."
His greatest memory dates back to 2007, when the Oswego State Lakers defeated Middlebury in overtime to capture the NCAA Division III title. Novak was on the ice when Garren Reisweber scored the championship goal, setting off a frenzy on the ice in Superior, Minn.